The oversight board for Meta, the parent company of both platforms, advised them to update their nudity policies after reviewing the decision to remove two Instagram posts featuring trans and non-binary people with bare chests. The photos were accompanied by a caption explaining that they were raising money for one member of the couple who was about to undergo gender-affirming surgery.
The images were restored after the couple appealed to the oversight board.
“The Oversight Board finds that removing these posts is not in line with Meta’s Community Standards, values or human rights responsibilities. These cases also highlight fundamental issues with Meta’s policies,” the board said.
“This policy is based on a binary view of gender and a distinction between male and female bodies. Such an approach makes it unclear how the rules apply to intersex, non-binary and transgender people, and requires reviewers to make rapid and subjective assessments of sex and gender, which is not practical when moderating content at scale,” the board noted of current censorship standards.
“The Board finds that Meta’s policies on adult nudity result in greater barriers to expression for women, trans, and gender non-binary people on its platforms. For example, they have a severe impact in contexts where women may traditionally go bare-chested, and people who identify as LGBTQI+ can be disproportionately affected, as these cases show.”
Prior to this advisory, Facebooks’s rules stated that photos of nipples were only allowed in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness, or gender reassignment surgery), or an act of protest,” whereas Instagram only allowed "photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding.”
Still, the board described the current exceptions made for breastfeeding, health, and protest reasons as “convoluted and poorly defined.” People posting breastfeeding photos or art featuring breastfeeding have had their photos flagged and removed, despite the fact that Instagram started allowing photos of breastfeeding in Dec. 2020.
Facebook and Instagram have 60 days to respond to the oversight board’s recommendations, which were released Jan. 17, 2023.